June 29, 2013

Ten Sticks and One Rice by Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng

Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng. Ten Sticks and One Rice. Singapore: Epigram Books, November 2012. This graphic novel is a story based on a family living in Singapore years ago. It tells a story about what kind of lifestyle did most of the Singaporeans had post-independence. One particular family, Hok Seng's family, were hawkers to make a living; having a small restaurant and selling pork barbecues, chicken barbecues, and rice. Aside from providing comfort foods, they also had them very affordable for everyone during those times. The story has a sense of post-independence history on a man's teenage life from being an illegal bookie, secret society member and street hawker.

At present time, having known his health condition, Hok Seng is very sensitive about it to the point that he doesn't want anyone else to know except his family. But one of his friends frankly told him that his health condition is 'common' at their age and should not feel embarrassed about it. In one of their conversations, Hok Seng found out that the man whom he respects as a brother died from cancer, and decided to arrange the funeral for his dear friend. He began reminiscing about their younger years from when he started to be part of a secret society with his dear friend, climbing up and down a steep hill filled with bamboo plants without any shirt on, and a ritual for brotherhood wherein both had their fingers sliced just enough to drop some blood on a bowl filled with water, heated, and drank. And told to remember the Ang Soon Tong Commandments: Respect one another and help a brother who is in trouble. If a brother has no food to eat, you must share yours with him. You must not steal your brother's wife. And if a brother is in prison or dead, you must take care of his family. Brotherhood aside, Hok Seng is also struggling in keeping it all together with his own family. He wanted his sons to be with him especially now that he has cancer, too. But they seem to be busy with their own lives as well. One time, they all gather together as a family and Hok Seng, despite his sickness, is still very strict with time just as how strict he is with his business. During that dinner together with everyone, Hok Seng asked his sons to dismantle his very own designed invention of a grill, that has been working since they just started the business until now, which has a smoke suction hood on top, drawer, a cupboard below it, wheels on the base, and glass panels on three sides. And said it is time to quit. He reminded his sons to must look for one another and once he is gone they should look after their mother. Everyone understood him but never really got emotional about it.

The story built a comparison between the time of Hok Seng's younger years (around 1960's to 80's) and the time of Hok Seng's son's younger years (2010 up to now) in Singapore. Hok Seng had experienced brotherhood in which he was able to live by over the years through a brotherhood ritual. Nowadays, especially Hok Seng's sons, never experienced a ritual for brotherhood but just plain brotherhood as being part of a family. The book conveyed the importance of brotherhood and the means of family. Even on the present day in modern age, he reminded his sons the value of brotherhood in spite knowing that they could never have the same experience in life as he did.

Ten Sticks and One Rice is a story that has etched the meaning of brotherhood. Apart from that, it re-tells a story about a man's younger self from being an illegal bookie, a secret society member, and a street hawker to being the same man but is now more experienced and struggles to make sense in living. As a graphic novel, it has very detailed, neatly-done sketches that makes it interesting to read. The style of writing is well-organized from present to past and back to present time. Somehow it doesn't confuse the reader with the time. Also, what makes it more interesting is that it tells first-hand experiences about what kind of lifestyle do they have back in the early days in Singapore and the kind of lifestyle there is right now.

I think this book is a good read and a must-read as well. Especially for those in Singapore and everyone who wants to know a part of post-independence history of the country. I highly recommend this book. 

Thank you to the authors Oh Yong Hwee and Koh Hong Teng for such a valuable story and the graphic skills they have made for the book. Also, to Good Reads for hosting the giveaway! :)

June 16, 2013

Incoming cards from Denmark, Portugal and Louisiana

3 cards in the mail recently -- postcrossing cards from Denmark & Portugal, and a surprise card from Louisiana.

1. Pocahontas-inspired card from Melanie of Denmark. Whenever I look at it, my mind sings Colors of the Wind. I love how it reminds me so much of my childhood days which was filled with afternoons in the garden, playing with caterpillars, going inside a very large cage & feeding my father's (different kinds of) birds, and reading comics/stories to my mother's flowers (because she told me they will bloom if I do so). It was a Pocahontas-like childhood except there were no John Smith involved.

2. Planalto das Cesaredas card from Nuno of Portugal. Just in case I find myself traveling around the world... I'd probably visit Portugal and remind myself to visit this place. Also, I'd learn Portuguese. That must be fun!

3. Flower card from Arielle of Louisiana. This card made me smile while working in the office. The day when I was totally clueless (because I was not expecting any mail to arrive), curious and excited at the same time as I walked towards the mailman who just blurted out my name outside the gate. What a lovely surprise from a friend who lives miles away in the States! :)

Thank you for these beautiful mails. They surely made my days happy! :D

June 13, 2013

Blog challenge: Your Beliefs

Let me talk about three things: life, friendship, love.

Life. As I grow older, I begin to understand how things work. Although not entirely as I still have a lot of questions unanswered and questions yet to encounter. There will always be the good one and the bad one. Most of the time, what feels good is so difficult to achieve and what feels bad is just around the corner. A lot will go against you; throwing bad words and bad energy until you're finally down and too hopeless to rise again. Their laughter will slowly go through your heart and it will try to break everything until you feel dead. On the other hand, there's a humble amount of good ones left but they are always too far to reach but are always hopeful for you to be happy. Although far, the good ones always combat the bad. It may usually take a long time but if you're hopeful enough, you will get the prize. This is what it feels like from where I am now. You may not understand it because we're all different but I know all of us are fighting a battle. Whatever it may be, just be hopeful. I know it's very hard but stay strong. If you feel weak, cry. Cry a lot of tears but don't forget to think of the good things that happened in the past. Your sad days won't last for too long and you will be happy again. So stay hopeful and smile.

Friendship. It's easy to form friendship and difficult to get away from it. We encounter friends who stay for life and friends who just stay for a couple of months or years. There will always be a reason why the bond of friendship is still there for years and there are reasons too as to why the friendship must end. Either way, just be happy that you've shared your life with them. Learn from bad things, accept, and be open. If a friendship blooms, celebrate. If a friendship must end, cry but be hopeful for good things to appear. You are not alone unless you isolate yourself. People come and go. You will always meet a new one who will inspire, understand, and celebrate life with you. You may also meet an old friend along the way. Celebrate your life with friends because it's one way of the many things to make your life meaningful.

Love. I'm in no position to talk about love because I haven't been brokenhearted too much to say I have learned a lot or be in a relationship with somebody for a long time. I still make mistakes from time to time but I always make sure to understand why and how it happened. Love makes you write a love letter to someone everyday. It makes you hum songs that you thought was too cheesy. It makes you a better version of yourself. It makes you plan for tomorrow. It makes you hopeful for another day with him/her/it. In general, being in love with someone (or giving love to some things e.g. dogs, cats, bunnies, etc.) makes you a happy person. It makes you brave enough to fight for something that's invisible and too precious not to. I may not give you the best advice when it comes to love, but let me tell you this: a person who doesn't know how to love, doesn't know how to dream and set goals in life.

June 10, 2013

Lord, give me strength to face these people everyday. I know that you put me in this situation because You know I can overcome it but I am so weak and I don't know what to do. I know you are doing this to me because you want to make me a strong woman for I know I am weak. I am so tired of crying and hoping that all will be well. I am trying to learn a lot of things from their bad intentions in life. I want to write every learnings from it, but my heart cries and breaks knowing that I get a lot. Lord, bless them for they are people, too. Please stop them from giving me depressing days and nights for years now. I am so tired and I want to be very joyful.

Let them realize that money is not the important thing in this world. They have changed because they think they can do everything in life and that they can control anyone's will. They have a heavy heart and slowly turning black and so does their intentions and everything. Give them love... teach them how to love and not be fake because what makes a good, beautiful, and meaningful life? Billions of money can give a beautiful death ceremony but not a meaningful life unless you use it for good. Love makes your life meaningful that even on your last day on earth, it will still be there lying around everyone's heart. 

I don't know when am I going to get out of here but I have faith and hope for a beautiful and joyful life. I will always cherish these difficult times because I know it means something that I will yet to know in the future. Let me be closer to the ones I love -- my siblings, and soon, mama and papa. Let me be surrounded with happy people. Bless me, Lord. I don't want to grow up like them.

June 7, 2013

Body Scrub: Exhilarating Mint Body Scrub with loofah and corn cob meal by Garden Botanika

"Finely ground loofah with corn cob meal gently polish rough, dry skin to a smooth luster. Cleansing Yucca and Soap Bark extracts are blended with invigorating Peppermint oil to leave skin clean and fresh while natural plant oils revive softness."

Exhilarating Mint Body Scrub with loofah and corn cob meal is gentle to my skin. Its fine soft scrubs exfoliates your skin making you feel good after a busy day. It has a minty smell that makes you feel very relaxed right after shower and its smell stays for hours. It bubbles up some more when you use a loofah/stone scrub.

My sister gave this to me years ago and I am still using it up to now. Clearly, I use my soap more than anything but for sure I get excited when I decide to use this before going to bed. It's like my reward for being productive for the day. :)

Do you use any body scrub? If yes, what is it? Do you use it frequently? :)

June 4, 2013

All The Living by C.E. Morgan

All The Living is a novel written by C.E. Morgan. It is a romantic story told in a very descriptive way. The writing style is new to me because it is somehow lyrical but the author did not fail to paint her words into a fine visual in which I enjoyed very much. The story started with Aloma being introduced as a girl who grew up with her aunt and uncle. She doesn't know what it feels to have a family. So over the years, she has always wished to have more than a family, friendship, and love. She is always longing for more.

Things have changed when she met Orren who is a frequent in Aloma's working place. They started to exchange jokes, tell stories, and talk about personal matters. It was clear that both of them love each other. In fact, they always make love in the dark. 

Something happened with Orren's family. Driving him to go back to their house and take over what was left. In which a garden of tobacco, a barn, lots of animals, and a home. He was alone. Aloma decided to live with him. 

Everything was dense. It was a little bit happy but sad. Their relationship got a bit more complicated leaving both of them frustrated with life in general. But both of them has their own way of keeping themselves sane. They fight, make love, talk and, most of the time, are silent. Aloma wants more attention from Orren who is busy farming and working for them. She wants interaction and something more. 

"More like... when I have you, when I have you like that even, it's not enough and I still want some more of you. When you say something, I want to hear you say more and when you go someplace, any place, I want you to come back more than anything. That's pretty much been true for forever. That's what I mean. Well, that's the whole truth."

What I like about this story is Aloma and Orren got to understand what love is by going through difficulties. Love in their relationship, family, friendship, religion, and even farming. It is in this story where the characters seem to be uncomfortable and always in search of something. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, most especially when you are in a state where you can't figure out what is best for you. If you are searching something in life but you can't even say what you want.
This somehow helps.

June 1, 2013

Rainy Saturday Afternoons (and I'm missing you) Mix

Rainy Saturday Afternoons (and I'm missing you) Mix came to mind while I was studying on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I was listening to the radio and everything seems so peaceful and lonely. Also, obviously, I'm just missing someone. These songs either make me happy or sad or both at the same time.

The Carpenters Can't Smile Without You
Captain & Tennille Do That To Me One More Time 
Richard Sanderson Reality
Kenny Rogers Through The Years
Glenn Frey Lover's Moon
Selena Dreaming Of You
Eagles Best Of My Love 
Leo Sayer When I Need You

33 minutes runtime
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